now to try to get it down in words, the HM experience! bib pickup was at 8 a.m., but at sunrise (7:15!) i checked out of the hotel to make the 10-minute drive to the park in old fairhaven. on the way the low pressure tire warning light came on, but since the car did not go clunkety clunk (that's the extent of my mechanical diagnostic knowledge), and we have another car with a sensitive sensor when it gets really cold out, and it was 39F (though there was frost on the field when i arrived there), i decided to "carefully" drive (like that would make a difference...) to the park anyway, and find a les schwab tire place after the race.
so i arrived before 7:30, about the first car in the parking lot (the instructions said very little parking, so i wasn't taking chances!) as a port a potty was seemingly porting itself across the walkway; i helped the organizers shove it into place - 1 portapotty! - as they were getting ready for the race. a far cry from the banks of portapotties at least month's race in stockholm. of course, we were 34,000 women registered there, and 300 yesterday! and as it turned out there was a perfectly good bathroom with two stalls - and heated hand drying! not far away. after a chilly walk to a gas station for info about les schwab, i returned to the car to await the 8 a.m. pickup. turned the heat on occasionally, ate a banana, munched on bread, drank water...
8 a.m. finally came, and after bib pickup, bathroom visit, it was just time to wait - and try not to freeze! found a sunny place to stand, but it was COLD! women were arriving, some of them in tutus or other weird getups. and everyone trying to stay warm. i left my fleece in the car about 8:45, and then the 3 bag pipers began to play! yes, bag pipes!!
we were then gathered in the sun on a field for the annual picture, and the noncompetitive nature of the race was explained. we could keep our own time, or they would give us one (any time we wanted!). she had an iphone, after all:-) we could run the entire way, or turn around (it was an out and back) anywhere along the way, and we would still receive our finisher medals - from a fireman! even if we just ran over the hill, turned around, and came back, we would get the medal:-)
finally we were told to assemble for the start, runners in front, walkers in the middle, crawlers and skippers (!) in the back. and we were off! i pushed start on the garmin, and since i was not back where the finish line was, my final distance was a bit "short" of the 13.1 miles. the course itself was varied - from park, to city sidewalk, to old railroad turned into walking biking trail or even road in residential neighborhood, to forest trail - including a series of steep switchbacks down into a gully and back up again in the first mile - which meant they would have to be climbed right at the end. plus since that section came in the first mile, it was crowded, so it was impossible to go as fast as possible with all the people around. we soon forgot about being cold, and by the last mile or so it was just beginning to get too warm, in the 60s.
i ran galloway style, 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking, the entire way except for running down the few hills uninterrupted - and walking up the two worst hills, one of them at a crawl. the first rest station marked "the maui mile" - and we received leis as we went past the volunteers. i carried my own water so i didn't actually stop at any of the stations. later that mile, people were leaving the leis along the way. gradually it started opening up, until the trail leading to the turnaround station, which was single file. i tried to remember to take it easy in the first half of the race, to save some energy for the second half. and that worked well, except for one steep hill when i slowed to a crawl, and mile 12, when i had to walk back up those switchbacks - and my pace, which had been in the 11, 12, and 13 min range for all the other miles, slowed to 14. still, there were two women half my age whom i played leapfrog with - i passed them when they walked, which they seemed to do for fairly long distances, then they passed me when they ran during one of my walk breaks, and then i caught them again. i crossed the finish line right behind them.
i love the fact that this is an all women's race - when i ran a few races (5Ks, 10Ks, HMs) five years ago, i realized that the women's races were more fun than the races open to everyone. and whenever i run surrounded by women, i am struck by the fact that we are all daughters, some of us are mothers, wives, sisters - and there is such a bond. i also think about my relationships with the two most important women in my life - my mother, who passed away last year, and my daughter, who hurt her back two years ago and is still struggling back to health and fitness. i was not a very good daughter, at least in my mother's eyes, and as altzheimers claimed her, she was left with the memories of all the "rotten" things i had done. i, on the other hand, decided i would not be like my mother, and treasure my relationship with my daughter, whom i consider to be my best friend.
anyway, enough rambling - the race came to an end, as must this blog entry - after walking up one final small hill leading back to the park, i ran the entire distance to the finish line, where there was a firetruck and firemen waiting to greet and congratulate us as we crossed the finish line and hang the medal around our necks.
firemen (and sole portapotty in background)
as for time - the garmin showed 2 hours 45 minutes for a distance of 12.8 miles, though the map showed 12.95 miles (garmins can have a problem with interference from trees and recognizing elevation from hills). my pace was 12:55, though, and i figured out online that a pace of 12:55 would give 13.1 miles at 2:49 - which means a PR because 5 years ago, when i ran the entire way, i came in at 2:51! so i am indeed pleased.
afterwards, drove to les schwab to check the tire and it was indeed the cold weather, a little air in each tire fixed the problem. celebrated afterwards with a vegan pizza, and then drove home over the mountains, where DD and i feasted on leftover pizza, leftover chard frittata - and she baked me my favorite butterscotch brownies (vegan, of course) as a treat which i have not enjoyed for years (and i still can't resist them, but that was yesterday, and today is a new day!).
thank you for reading this far (if you have!) and for all your good wishes and encouragement!